The catering and food service businesses in the UK witnessed a sharp decline at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, with only 18.2 percent of companies operating at the time. Once the restrictions started easing up, the number reached 37.3 percent by March 2021, and it’s only expected to go up from here on.
With the industry on its way back to normalcy, businesses are either opening up or new individuals are planning to start. Whether catering for a wedding or corporate event, one of the first requirements is a work vehicle. You’ll rely on your work vehicle to transport food, tools, and equipment to and from the venue.
Here are the five key factors you must know before buying the perfect catering van for your business.
Ensuring Food Safety
There are several challenges and factors involved when you are transporting perishable items like food. Spoiled or rotten food will put a dent in your business’ reputation. In the UK, the food business or catering operators are required by law to ensure that food handlers receive appropriate supervision and training in food hygiene in line with their work.
For transporting food safely, there are various safety guidelines to take into consideration. It would be best to remember everything from trip time, temperatures, challenges, and the right vehicle for the job.
One of the first requirements of food safety is to ensure refrigeration on the go. Therefore, you must invest in a work vehicle that maintains a consistent temperature for your cargo. Vans like Nissan Nv200 with simple upfits and refrigeration units can maintain a constant temperature for refrigerated and frozen food.
Easy Access and Loadspace
A good van offers easy access to the content inside for efficient and professional handling of the food. Consider a vehicle with convenient sliding doors on both sides/one side or rear doors that swing open by 260-degrees. Having this setup will ensure that your loading and unloading process is highly convenient.
Apart from the convenient loading and unloading, it would be best if you also considered the loadspace of the van. The loadspace means how much you can fit in the back of the van. This will vary according to the magnitude of events you cater to. Getting the right-sized vehicle is crucial because a smaller van will not serve any purpose, and a bigger van will have higher operational costs.
Therefore, consider the size of your equipment, food storage containers, and your expansion plan to decide the perfect van for your business.
Get a Perfect Upfit
No matter how carefully you drive, if the food containers and tools in the cargo are not organized, there’s always the risk of containers shifting during transit. This can be solved by a proper upfit for the van. Upfit means installing organizational inserts like shelving racks.
Consider how you prefer to stack your containers and how many containers do you carry on an average to the events. Based on this intel, figure out how much space you need for the containers and equipment. Also, consider the possibility of having to switch the layout for every job. This will help you decide upon a practical van insert.
Efficiency is the name of the game here, and you’d be surprised how much you can fit in a small van with the right kind of shelves and storage. Many manufacturers offer custom upfit for every business type; you’ll benefit from such bespoke customizations.
Have Space for Non-Food Items
In a catering business, it’s not just the food that you would be ferrying to and from the event venue. The bulk of your cargo would be catering equipment like utensils, tools, serving equipment, buffet equipment, and beverage station equipment. As such, your primary focus should be to have a lot of space for gear and food.
Having a custom array of racks, bins, and drawer cabinets will solve this issue. Additionally, you can also consider fold-away shelves, which can be pulled out when needed. Another option is to consider a tow trailer, which should fulfill all your storage needs.
Make Sure the Exterior Stands Out
In a lot of ways, your catering van will be the face of your business. Therefore, once you have picked your van and upfitted the inside, turn your attention towards the exterior. Practically every inch of the van’s body is a marketing space, which will help you grab more opportunities.
Consider getting a custom paint job that reflects your brand image with name, logo, contact info, and other details. Another option is to get a custom wrap. Whatever option you opt for, ensure that it’s easy on the eyes and has all relevant information about your business. Pro-tip: also, paint or wrap the top of your van to be visible from above, which will help if you pass through areas with high-rise buildings.
Catering is an exciting business, and your work van shouldn’t be any different. As mentioned before, your catering van is the face of your business and will have your clients talking about your service even after you have left.